Queen’s green champions

Engineering students work with hospitals on energy-saving projects

Murray Wong, Sci ’13, says he thinks working on a more open-ended, uncertain assignment with a local hospital was a valuable learning experience.
Murray Wong, Sci ’13, says he thinks working on a more open-ended, uncertain assignment with a local hospital was a valuable learning experience.

Queen’s engineering students are applying their skills in a real-world setting and giving back to the Kingston community with the Green Champion Hospital Fund.

Backed by the Faculty of Applied Science, the provincial government and the Ontario Hospital Association, the pilot project matches engineering students with industry mentors to help local hospitals find ways to streamline their energy use.

Brian Frank, director of program development for the Faculty of Applied Science, told the Journal via e-mail the project was set in motion when the Faculty of Applied Science was contacted by the provincial Ministry of Finance, who had visited the Applied Science website and read about first-year projects developed with local hospitals.

“Further discussions led to a meeting with representatives from the Ontario Hospitals Association and local hospitals to set up the current projects,” Frank wrote.

Queen’s students participating in the Green Champion Hospital Fund have worked with Kingston General Hospital, Hotel Dieu and the Quinte Health Care family of hospitals.

Frank said the project benefits both students and healthcare providers.

“These kinds of projects provide a real-world experience for engineering students, including realistic constraints, the opportunity to get feedback from clients, the chance to learn from practicing engineers, and an opportunity to make a difference in the community while working towards an engineering degree.

“The hospitals benefit from student proposals that could be used in future grant applications to implement upgrades in hospital services,” Frank said, adding that professional engineers employed by local hospitals have said they’re eager to play a role in the education of future engineers.

The courses involved are drawn from all disciplines across the faculty, Frank said. “Approximately half of the students are in the first-year engineering design course and have not selected a discipline,” he said. “The upper-year students are from a variety of disciplines and are taking a third- or fourth-year course in multidisciplinary engineering design.”

Frank said about 40 students are involved in the project for the 2009-10 school year.

Murray Wong, Sci ’13, took part in the Green Champion Hospital Fund as part of his Practical Engineering Modules coursework last semester. All students who worked with the Green Champion Hospital Fund Initiative were graded by their project manager.

“This ended up being more work than we expected,” Wong said.

Wong told the Journal in an e-mail he got involved with the project because he wanted to give back to the community.

“I’m enthusiastic about sustainability and energy efficiency initiative, and I hope to specialize in these areas in the future,” he said.

Wong said he was assigned to work as a part of the Belleville General Hospital Energy Retrofit Team—a two-year project involving both first- and upper-year engineering students.

“Our group of four chose to focus on reducing heat lost through windows. Over the course of the first semester, we looked into various options including adding thermally insulating screens, sealing windows to reduce air leakage and complete window replacement.

“From our research, we developed an assessment tool, which allowed the hospital to enter values specific to their situation. … By creating a general matrix, the solution could not only be used by Belleville Hospital, but it could be applied across the Ontario Hospital Association’s members who would be funding the retrofits.”

Wong said he thinks working on a more open-ended, uncertain assignment was a valuable learning experience.

“While I did dabble in some thermodynamics, I mostly gained experience working in a professional, team-oriented environment,” he said. “From the project, I learned to be flexible, adapting to last minute changes and working around a lack of necessary information.”

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